The Admirals lost 4-0 against the Rockford IceHogs Thursday night. From start to finish this game was never really close. The passing and shooting lanes weren’t available for the Admirals as the IceHogs defense and puck control dictated this entire game.
“We were terrible,” said Milwaukee Admirals head coach Dean Evason after the game. “Absolutely terrible. We talked that there is a difference between work and compete in the past. We’ve always said that our group works. We get out-competed sometimes but we always work. Tonight we didn’t do either. It was like men against boys out there.”
It was a shaky start for the Admirals in the first period. They found themselves shorthanded only seventeen-seconds into the game after a delay of game penalty against Anthony Bitetto. They never really seemed to click thereafter and the IceHogs made them pay for it.
Garret Ross threw a puck on Magnus Hellberg from the right wing and it appeared to knuckle in on the big Swede and squeeze through him. There was traffic crashing in for a rebound but the lamp lit up before anyone else could touch it up. It’s Ross’ seventh goal of the season.
“We were not ready to play the game tonight,” said Evason. “They came at us right away. Our entire game wasn’t right.”
The IceHogs added another tally in the second period to give themselves a two-goal cushion. T.J. Brennan stepped up from the blue like and into the left wing faceoff circle to deliver a wing-to-wing feed on a platter for Matt Carey. Hellberg was at full stretch to make a post-to-post save but, even with Carey fanning the initial one-timer, he still couldn’t make the save. For Carey that goes down as his fourth goal of the season.
In the third period a Garrett Noonan turnover led directly to the IceHogs third goal of the night. After winning a faceoff in neutral, the puck fell back to Noonan who tried to toss up ice for Johan Alm. The pass was picked off and turned into a two-on-one the other way with Cody Bass teeing up Drew LeBlanc for his third goal of the season.
With the game winding down, and blood in the water for the IceHogs, Brennan stepped up from his blue line again to provide offense. Rather than dish off an assist this time Brennan roofed a wrist shot over the right shoulder of Hellberg to score his fifth goal of the season and make it a 4-0 game.
“They just out-worked us,” said Mark Van Guilder. “They moved the puck quicker. They worked smarter. They worked harder. We just weren’t very good tonight and they were.”
He didn’t have a difficult night in net but he’ll certainly take the shutout. Michael Leighton stopped all eighteen shots he faced en route to his second shutout this season. The most difficult save he had to make this season was robbing Austin Watson on the doorstep of goal in the second period. Outside of that – he had it relatively easy.
The opposite end of the rink saw Hellberg taking a solid swipe at his water bottle as the game finished. He let in four goals from twenty-eight shots to pick up his first regulation defeat of this season.
“We didn’t bear down today and it starts with me,” said Magnus Hellberg. “I didn’t do the extra saves today to make us have a chance in this hockey game and it’s frustrating.”
Ramblings: Tonight marked the return of Patrick Cehlin to the Admirals lineup. It was his first Admirals game since Game 2 of the 2014 Calder Cup Playoffs in Milwaukee against the Toronto Marlies and his first regular season contest since 4/18/14 when the Admirals defeated the Charlotte Checkers. With his return, and the recent roster moves for Joe Pendenza and Jonathan Diaby, the only scratch tonight for the Admirals was Frederick Gaudreau. Rich Clune took a puck to the groin during the game and never returned. He isn’t expected to return for Saturday’s game.
Thoughts on tonight’s game? What happened? Where was the bite that we’ve seen from the Admirals all season?